Ready to complete our Strava Streak Challenge over the next three weeks? And improve your pace as you go? Whether you're looking to improve your 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon PB, we've got easy-to-follow training sessions for you that will help your smash your running goals.
There are many different definitions of what tempo is. I classify tempo running as follows: 85% effort level, a pace somewhere between your 5k – 21k pace. It should feel like you’re ‘working’ but not ‘racing’. You should be able to say a few words but not hold a conversation. When your session is done you shouldn’t feel as if you have emptied the tank – that’s not the point, save that for racing. I know it’s tricky when doing tempo in a group and it starts getting competitive with the speed constantly picking up, but trust me you’re far better off sticking to your plan, rather then getting caught up into what turns into a race and leaves you fatigued for a few days.
It’s also a great idea to add in a ‘float’ within your tempo sessions. This is a section where you reduce your speed by about 10%, giving the body a slight break before you start your next tempo set. If short distance goals are your target then ideally you want to be doing 4k – 10k worth of tempo volume. Tempo sessions should be constant running without taking breaks but rather use the float as recovery. I firmly believe in and am massive fan of ‘progression tempo’ sessions. This is where you start off at an easier pace and gradually increase your speed as your run goes on. Running this way just gets your body used to picking speed up the longer the run goes on for, which is the mentality I and my athletes start a race with. It’s a lot more enjoyable and effective running a race this way, where you line up with the mentality of aiming for a negative or equal split, rather than going all out from the beginning and hitting a wall half way through. This session should only feel tough the last 10 – 15% at which point you should be going faster than your threshold pace. A tough session to get right but one that is so rewarding when you do.
What does a typical tempo session look like?
A typical tempo session for this would be something like:
• 4 X 1 mile tempo (0.5 mile float between sets)
• 4 X 2km tempo (0.5 km float between sets)
If you’re aiming at longer distance goals, especially for things like Berlin or London marathon which are fast and flat, then longer tempo sessions are crucial within the build-up to successfully chasing down your target
time. If this is your next goal then I’d highly recommend you do 2 weeks of tempo for every 1 week of hills.
A typical marathon tempo session would include anything from 14k – 30k and would be as follows:
• 5 X 3kms (0.5km float between sets)
• 5 X 4kms (0.5km float between sets)
• 5 X 5kms (1km float between sets)
The main session within the week that improves and builds on your speed. When you initially start doing track sessions, the speed work often leaves you stiff, fatigued and barely able to walk, never mind run the following day. But as with anything, the more you do it, the more your body gets used to it. Track sessions always hurt just as much but you just get more used to the feeling and recover a whole lot quicker.
What does a typical interval/track session look like?
Below are some examples of typical track/interval sessions for if you’re targeting a shorter distance races for
example 3k – 10k;
• 20 X 200 meters (30 second recovery)
• 10 X 400 meters (60 seconds recover)
• 5 X 800 meters (75 seconds recovery)
• 3 X 700 meters (75 seconds rest), followed by 7 X 300 meters (45 seconds rest)
• 5 X 2 minutes (60 seconds recovery), followed by 8 X 30 seconds (30 seconds recovery)
• 2 X 3 minutes (90 seconds recovery), 2 X 2 minute (75 seconds recovery), 2 X 1 minute (60 seconds recovery), 2 X 30 seconds (30 seconds recovery)
Below are some examples of typical track/interval sessions for if you’re targeting a longer distance races for example 15k - marathon;
• 20 X 400 meters (60 seconds recovery)
• 10 X 800 meters (75 seconds recovery)
• 7 X 1km (90 seconds recovery)
• 4 X 1mile (2 minutes rest)
• 5 X 5 minutes (2 minutes rest)
• 2 X 5 minutes (2 minutes rest), 2 X 4 minutes (90 seconds rest), 2 X 3 minutes (75 seconds rest)
Just in case you were wondering, Kipchoge’s group usually does around 15km worth of track volume on their Tuesday session, wow! These sorts of sessions are always easier when done in a group and it allows you to push harder too.
How does this benefit speed / speed endurance / breaking PBs?
There are benefits to both tempo and interval/track sessions. Some of these are mentioned below;
• Improves your lactate threshold. These sorts of sessions tend to spike your lactic acid levels,
allowing you to clear them too.
• Gets the mind and body used to what race pace feels like.
• Improves overall cardio fitness.
• The main session in the week that makes you a faster runner.
• Build on your VO2 max and overall fitness by training within your zone 5 heart rate.
• Improve running form, running at speeds quicker than your usual.
• Increasing the rates of improvement by snapping out of our comfort zone.
How does the Boston 11 benefit this type of training?
The Boston 11 is a suited shoe to this type of training and in particular the bigger tempo runs. Offering you enough support for the higher mileage, while still providing some really good reaction/bounce off the surface
with it’s Lightstrike Pro+. The energy rods limit energy loss underfoot. Boston 11 Adizero’s is tuned for speed, allowing us to push to our max within these sessions. This shoe is suited anywhere from mid to longer distance runs. Supportive, yet responsive. This shoe can do it all! They're fast, but that does not come at the cost of durability — the midsole mixes ultralight Lightstrike Pro cushioning with durable Lightstrike Pro+. Let’s not forget, this incredible shoe is made from recyclable materials too.
How far would one of these sessions usually accumulate? Is 5k a reasonable distance to set?
When looking to improve times over the 3k, 5k and 10k distance then shorter and faster intervals are the most beneficial. I would say the ideal track volume for shorter distance goals is somewhere between 3k-4k or 10 – 16 minutes. When looking to improve over the half marathon, marathon, or ultra-marathon distance then longer intervals are what you are after, building on stamina. You should be looking for around 6k-8k or 20 – 28 minutes of track volume.
Training plan by Nick Bester AR London Captain
I am a 2:20, marathoner and coach based in London. Targeting a sub 2:20 at Berlin marathon in a few weeks’ time. I am a passionate runner who is always striving to improve and help as many as I can on my journey forward. As runners, we all go through phases – sometimes it’s easy, other times it’s hard. Sometimes you’re motivated, other times you dread doing sessions. At the moment, I’m enjoying running more than ever. I enjoy improving and getting quicker each year. Very few things are sweeter in life than a PB. I know these days will eventually come to an end but for now, I’m enjoying this journey.
This year I ran a PB marathon in 2:20 at Rotterdam in April, a 4 minute PB. I still feel I have loads more to give and very keen to see where hard work takes me over the next few years. My coaching group is currently 126 runners and the athletics club I recently registered (a year and a half ago) has 166 members. It’s called Best Athletics.
Team Instagram: Best.Athletics
Strava: Nick Bester @ Justalilbester